As part of their Black Power! exhibit, the Schomburg Center’s Exhibition Hall is featuring the original “Black Panthers.”
The installation which covers the Black Power Movement’s 50th anniversary has numerous photographs, dated documents, ephemera and videos from that period on display. These pieces serve as painful, and yet proud, reminders of the resistance that continues to this day.
Every aspect of the Black Power Movement is covered – organizations, coalitions, political prisoners, aesthetics, education, international influence, popular culture, publications and the Black Arts Movement. Even though the Black Power Movement lasted only ten short years, the Movement changed the course of the fight for autonomy.
The Black Panthers grassroots organizing, a major force in this Movement, was supported by poor communities of color, and progressive whites. The Party’s core was its leadership in the international proletariat struggle; the same battles exist today with different names – Black Lives Matter, or Reparations, for example.
On display is a disturbing newspaper clip wherein on June 1969, J. Edgar Hoover states that the Black Panther Party represents the greatest threat to internal security of the country.
Most of us don’t think of “love” or “soft” poetry coming from Amiri Baraka, but in 1967, then known as LeRoi Jones, he wrote a poem on display reflecting just those sentiments:
As you view photos of those who have been crowned “cultural luminaries”, you’ll surely appreciate their accomplishments combating the realities of race in America, and rising to such heights in spite of the barriers erected.
Schomburg’s Media Room is equipped with several large screens where documentaries are shown. One such documentary explores the “blaxploitation” films of this period.
A visit to see this exhibit is a great way to honor not just the original “Black Panthers” but all the resistance fighters in the fields of civil rights, entertainment, education and sports. It’s a perfect way to introduce another generation to the achievements of their prolific elders, while serving as a reminder to all of the broad shoulders we stand on.
Curated by Dr. Sylviane A. Diouf, the Black Power 50th Anniversary exhibit is ongoing. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is located at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard at 135th Street (917) 275-6975. For more information, click here.